The Hoops produced one of their best performances of the season to come away from title-chasing Crowborough with a fully deserved point on Saturday.
The odds had looked stacked against Derek Hares’ side beforehand. Missing four regulars in Connor Coyne, Ryan Philpott, Joe Anderson and Lee Scott, they were up against a Crows’ team who had won their 10 previous home league games and who had thrashed Deal 6-1 at the Charles Ground in early October.
The Crows produced some superb attacking football in that first meeting but they weren’t given the chance to do the same again on Saturday by a Deal side who were resolute in defence, competitive in the midfield area and energetic all over the park.
The first 45 minutes saw few clear-cut chances created by either team. Andy Miller and Joe Reeves went close for the Hoops while at the other end James Tonkin made a spectacular double stop five minutes before the break to ensure that Deal changed ends still on level terms.
The Hoops then began the second half on top and they were rewarded when Kane Smith made a great marauding run out of defence before being brought down by Jack Turner in the Crows’ area. Dan Adams converted the 51st-minute penalty but the home side were back on level terms seven minutes later through Sam Carrington after he was set up by Henry Muggeridge.
The large home support in the attendance of 262 then settled back in the expectation that the Crows would go on to wrap up yet another home victory but the Hoops had other ideas and, with Hares’ three substitutes all playing their part, Deal battled to one of their most satisfying results of the season.
Deal: Tonkin, Paxman, O’Brien, K Smith, Hill, Hark, Bigginton, Miller (Brayne 61), Walsh (Taderera 69), Adams, Reeves (Gregory 79).